The Barracks, High Blantyre

The T junction at the top of Broompark Road, High Blantyre where it meets Main Street wasn’t always a T junction. It used to be a crossroads! On the 1890s maps, a street called “Forrest Place” led off Main Street towards the South, opposite Broompark Road. Leading to five tenement style houses, it would appear Forrest Place was a cul de sac.

The 1910 map shows the 5 tenement houses to good effect, although it would appear they had no back steps. This property was known locally as “The Barracks”, perhaps a reference to the stark housing conditions that existed there. By 1926, the properties had become so run down and deemed unfit for human habitation. They were still there in 1930 according to the valuation roll, owned by Mr James Wyper and Mr. James Craig, but were demolished by 1935. It had carried the address 1 Forrest Place in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Barracks appear on 1898 maps and the construction date is unknown but definitely after 1860 as they’re not on 1859 maps. Looking into this further, the best link to the area is on 8th September 1877, when John Gardiner of Broompark Farm sold land at High Blantyre to Margaret Forrest and her son, who is assumed to be the likely constructor. There is no mention of Forrest Place in 1885 Valuation rolls, but it does appear in 1895. This gives a more accurate date of at least 1886 for the construction of the homes.

There is another suggestion I’d like to put forward. This date ties in with the end of the mills at Blantyre Works, where it was known that some orphan children or poor young adults were known as “Barracks Children”. There may have been some initial connection to them being housed or cared for here following the closure of the mills, or if this is too far fetched, the name alone being a reference to those poor, unfortunate souls.

However, back to fact…..The 1895 valuation roll is an interesting read. These were BIG tenements, but conditions were extremely cramped and this subject is worth more investigation, as it was all single people living there in homes number right up to number 56!

These large tenements were subdivided into single rooms for each singular tenant, housing single men, all miners. There’s a James Forrest living in number 27 that year. The proprietor of all 56 homes is known then to be Mr George. S . Louden. The rooms were all classed as houses, except for number 48 which was classed as a ‘hall’. As such, I think I’ve discovered that the ‘barracks’, was simply a large hostel for males. There would have been no real pride in looking after the place and it’s not surprising that the whole building eventually became run down. The whole place was occupied by 54 single males and living at number 35, was Mrs Sarah Lee, likely a housekeeper, cleaner or rent collector. Rent was varied between £4 and £7 per year (in todays terms that upper amount is about £800)

The suggestion that these houses only existed for 4 decades or so is a good indication that they were poorly made, without damp proof courses or any quality timbers or materials. If you’re looking for the site today, they would have been from where the corner of the carpark is behind Jinxys and the Chemist, stretching out south eastwards over the current grassy area.

The name, “Forrest Place” is confined to Blantyre’s history, but not to be confused with Forrest Street in Low Blantyre and Forres Street, High Blantyre which are both still there.

On social media:

Bill Graham This was behind “Lintbutts”, What was as a child waste ground, we kids called it the “Old Orchard” although I do not remember any trees there. Perhaps it was corruption of the “Forrest Place”.

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